This is an official press release.
When in the evening of a rainy Sunday Beethoven’s Ode to Joy sounded through the 18 meters high lobby of MesseTurm Frankfurt it was time to celebrateEurope’s best stair climbers. A challenging tournament with almost 3000 stairs in three rounds lay behind them. After the 1202 stairs in the final have been climbed and the chequered flag was waved at the finish line in 61st floor of the famous landmark building, the new European Towerrunning Champions were certain and a black-red-golden double home triumph was perfect.
Men’s title went to Thomas Dold (Germany) with a start-finish victory and a final climb time of 6:30 clearly defeating silver medallist Christian Riedl (Germany, 6:53). Third place went to Piotr Lobodzinski (Poland, 7:00) showing a brilliant performance only two weeks after his comeback after a long injury break. Three climbers from international Towerrunning team “Horedole” completed a great result for the Eastern European athletes. Milan Wurst (CzechRepublic) became fourth in 7:07, followed by Viktor Novotny (CzechRepublic, 7:08) and Tomas Celko (Slovakia, 7:50).
While the men’s competition was dominated by the World Cup leaders and sonorous names of the Towerrunning sport, the results of the female’s competition were quite surprising. The 16-year old German mountain runner, cross-country runner and Towerrunning newcomer Melanie Albrecht won the first European Champion title in Frankfurt after mastering the final race in 8:05 min – 6 seconds faster than silver medallist Marie-Fee Breyer (Germany, 8:11). Valentina Belotti (Italy, 8:15) completed the podium. Also ranks 4, 5 and 6 went to Italian runners. Antonella Confortola, Alessandra Valgoi and Cristina Bonacina again underlined the exceptional strength and closeness of the Italian stair climbing team.
When lining up for the Formula 1-like start, the 12 finalists already had climbed 1784 stairs in the SkyRun and semi-final races. By combining different race formats and distances in a one-day tournament the all-round qualities of the athletes were decisive, but also tactical aspects became more important compared to other Towerrunning events.
In the morning the sixth edition of SkyRun MesseTurm Frankfurt was held as an individual time trial race with more than 300 national and international participants including almost all leading European stair climbers. Due to technical problems with the time keeping system no live timing was available for more than one hour so nobody knew the official results. When after the last climber reached the finish Towerrunning Sports Director Sebastian Wurster stood in the middle of a nervous crowd of athletes and spectators in the lobby of the MesseTurm and announced rankings and times, the first upset of the day became apparent. After ten consecutive victories including the 2011 edition of SkyRun MesseTurm Frankfurt Thomas Dold has lost his first stair climb since he had to retire at World Cup final 2010 inBogota. It was Christian Riedl who won his fourth season race in 6:42 and secured the prize money and 80 World Cup points. Instead Dold saved his power for the final rounds in the afternoon and set a time of 6:49. Third placed runner was Piotr Lobodzinski in 7:00.
Although being part of the European Championships tournament also non-European elite athletes climbed the 1202 stairs to the 61st floor of MesseTurm in the SkyRun individual time trials. Sproule Love one week after finishing 16th inBerlinclocked the fourth-best time (7:02) and thereby defeated many of the leading European athletes. Suzanne Walsham (Australia) won the women’s race in 7:49 narrowly missing the track record of Anna Hahner (7:48 in 2010). Second place went to Marie-Fee Breyer (8:14) one second ahead of Valentina Belotti (8:15). The later European Champion Melanie Albrecht came in fourth just another second behind (8:16). With the 160 World Cup points for her already fourth victory in 2012 Suzanne Walsham overtook Kristin Frey (USA) in the World Cup ranking and therefore is the new world’s number one.
After SkyRun MesseTurm Frankfurt the top 12 male and female European athletes had been distributed to the different semi final runs using a group draw with a seeding system comparable to the major soccer championships. The semi finals led to the 30th floor of MesseTurm Frankfurt and included 582 stairs. Unfortunately during the races there has been heavy rain so only few spectators watched the novel start modus on the outdoor part of the track, but they mainly crowded in the tent where the video broadcast from the stairwell was shown.
The women’s first semi final race was dominated by Melanie Albrecht (3:28). Behind her with Antonella Confortola and Alessandra Valgoi two Italian climbers entered the final, whereas the tournament was over for Xinxin Xia (Germany, shared 7th rank), Helen Hemmling (Germany, 10th rank) and Margit Rensch (Germany, 12th rank). The second semi final also saw a clear German winner Marie-Fee Breyer (3:56) in front of two Italians. Vertical World Circuit Champion Valentina Belotti and World Cup Champion Cristina Bonacina completed the finals. 51-year old German Dr. Gabi Hirsemann finished the tournament on a shared 7th rank in front of Sara de Maria (Italy, 9th rank) and Carmen Fuhrmann (Germany, 11th rank).
In men’s first semi-final there has been a tight race and the first four athletes came in within six seconds. Thomas Dold won the race in 2:59, followed by Piotr Lobodzinski and Viktor Novotny. Second Polish athlete Bartosz Swiatkowski narrowly missed the final and was ranked 7th. Also the tournament was over after this race for Ignacio Cardona Torres (Spain, 9th rank) and surprising semi-finalist Rudolf Reitberger (Austria, 11th rank). At the start for the second semi-final the athletes seemed to be quite nervous, since three attempts were necessary to launch the race without anyone false-starting or moving before the green light turned on. Then at second floor Damian Ziemianin received a yellow card and a ten seconds time penalty for hard use of elbows against an opponent. Similar to the first semi final only few second separated the first four athletes at finish. While Christian Riedl, Milan Wurst and Tomas Celko proceeded to the finals, Fabio Ruga (Italy, 8th rank), Damian Ziemianin (Poland, 10th rank) and Omar Bekkali (Belgium, 12th rank) retired after the second round.
Now the participants for the two finals were determined and after a short break during the Kid’s Cup event the big finals took place. Happily the rain now had almost stopped. The rest is history and few minutes later the German fans could celebrate their champions Thomas Dold and Melanie Albrecht, who won the first national Towerrunning titles too. Also the Polish team had a lot of reasons to celebrate. Besides bronze medallist Piotr Lobodzinski and the other top 10 climbers Swiatkowski and Ziemianin two further athletes achieved a rank within Europe’s top 30 – Tomasz Klisz on rank 23 and his brother Pawel on rank 30. BehindGermany(562 points) andItaly(376 points)Polandachieved the third best nation’s score inFrankfurt(247 points).
The Towerrunning European Championships 2012 were organized as a joint project of MesseTurm Frankfurt, Turngemeinde Unterliederbach 1887, the Association for People with Spina bifida / Rhein-Main-Nahe e.V. (ARQUE) and Towerrunning Office Vienna as the international governing body of the stair climbing sport. In eight different age groups German and European Champions were crowned. With prize money of € 9,000, the tournament was the most highly endowed stair climbing event inEurope. Besides the professional sporting performance at SkyRun MesseTurm Frankfurt, there was also an eminent charity-aspect. About 11.000 € have been raised for ARQUE, which offers counselling, sports and leisure activities for children with Spina bifida and their families. Therefore the event was a perfect symbiosis between charity and elite stair climbing sport.
Race-Director Michael Lederer from ARQUE was highly pleased with the event and the participants field: „The response to the SkyRun rises year after year. The participant record was broken again. Each runner helps to make this event even more attractive.” Co-organizer and Towerrunning Sports Director Sebastian Wurster emphasizes the new format and the fair-play issue: “We are very satisfied about the outstanding field quality and the highly attractive competition we were able to experience inFrankfurt. The great response from almost all European athletes and the media underlined, that the new Championships modus is challenging, spectacular and attractive. Although there was a high prize money fund, we saw a very fair competition.” Fair-play throughout the entire tournament and especially during the races has been ensured by voluntary referees strictly enforcing the Towerrunning fair-play-regulations. In this respect the 2012 edition of SkyRun MesseTurm Frankfurt and first European Championships set new standards in the Towerrunning sport.
After three European Masters Races inWarsaw,BerlinandFrankfurtwithin 15 days, also next weekend there will be major international Towerrunning events. Some of the world’s leading stair climbers will climb the Masters Race inTaipei101, whereas others prefer the second edition of Avaz Towerrunning inSarajevo. Besides invitations for elite athletes, prize money and a spectacular mass start competition there is another feature making the event particular attractive: For the first time in European Towerrunning history there will be live TV coverage of the event. Besides the world rankings and the introduction of new attractive tournament formats and championships this is another important step on the long journey to a professional Towerrunning sport.
World Cup Trophy for Thomas Dold: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.304521479638839.69737.182384045185917&type=1